The first thing you'll notice about Owl and the Electric Samurai is that it is neither as frantic nor as fun as its predecessors. This is a slower, more deliberate tale, and one that carries a heavy weight in terms of its stakes for all involved. For that reason, it's also neither as friendly nor as romantic. Sure, the usual cast of supporting characters is there, namely Rynn and Carpe, but there is an emotional distance between them all that is borne out of fear, paranoia, and desperation.
Not only does Owl have lingering tensions with Lady Siyu to deal with, but International Archaeology Association (IAA) is playing hardball, the elves have put her in an impossible position, and the cursed (possibly sentient) armor know as the Electric Samurai has placed its own claim on our heroine. Placed in an impossible situation, it seems as if any action she takes to deal with one issue only increases the pressure of the others.
In terms of world-building, Owl and the Electric Samurai has a lot to offer. We get insights into Rynn's past, as well as his history with the elves; we learn more about supernatural politics than you'd ever imagine possible; and we get some significant revelations about World Quest and its creators. Readers who have been waiting for answers will find many of them here but, of course, they will also find new - and often bigger - questions as a result. The real-life archaeological set-pieces are a bit simpler this time around, but they are balanced with the fantastical details of Shangri-La. Heavy the story may be, full of plots and threats around every corner, but Charish never loses her ability to astound.
The climax here is everything fans could hope for, but it comes at a steep price. There are hard choices and real threats in the final chapters, all leading up to a major development for one character, and an even bigger cliff-hanger. Owl and the Electric Samurai may promise a lot, juggling all its myriad conflicts, but it also delivers. This volume feels like a real game-changer, and I suspect the upcoming Owl and the Tiger Thieves will take things even further.
ebook, 416 pages
Expected publication: May 8th 2017 by Simon & Schuster
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.